Thursday, February 16, 2006

Governments Courting Religion

Italy is a Democratic Republic these days, slightly more liberal than the US. Unlike the US, separation between church and state is constitutionally codified. (The US has only a non-establishment clause intended to limit government's influence over the practice of religion, not to limit the influence of religious people in government any less than anyone else has an influence in government.)

The jurisprudence of the US Supreme Court has changed in recent years in that recent rulings have referenced the decisions of foreign courts. Given that the Italian constitution more severely limits government interaction with religion than the constitution of the US, the following should make the Supremes take notice:

Italian courts have ruled that it is perfectly legal to display a crucifix in a public classroom. not only that, but they recognize it as education since the Christian tradition was instrumental in the foundation of the country as we know it today.

Meanwhile, back in the US the Boy Scouts are being called a "religion" for the sake of denying use and maintenance of a piece of public land. Therefore, there is a trend toward calling anything religious that merely acknowledges some sort of a "God". At stake will be the definition of "religion". If this ends up in the Supreme Court (it really should be a legislative decision) I wonder if they will reference the recent trends in Italian courts.

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